BIPOC Mental Health
“ We are taught to hold our pain “ –Dr. Tama Lane
Navigating through a society and various cultures that stigmatize mental health struggles are roadblocks to living mentally healthy lives. Those stigmas are especially prevalent in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenousness, People of Color) communities, where dialogue surrounding mental health has historically been discouraged.
Helping communities of color prioritize their mental well-being, unpacking the aftermath of trauma, and changing the narrative around mental health is the blueprint for shattering barriers. The relationship between mental health care and the communities that often face the most adversity is packed with a variety of historical anti-self-care methods. We’re taught to hold our pain. Within families, we learn “not talk about private matters outside the home and to brush it under the rug. We learn that depression is a weakness, which is attached to shame. The family remedy is to “get over it” or simply “push it out of your mind.” Breaking silence is often met with harmful labels of crazy, mad, nuts or insane.
Cultural norms can hijack mental wellness. Our identities are based on the stories, the narratives, we tell ourselves about our lives and experiences. Forward mental movement involves creating a space for women and men of color to bravely share and re-author their stories. It truly is okay to not be okay and talking about the impact of life experiences that jolt and, sometimes, mentally immobilize, is not a weakness. It’s a superpower.